When Should You Take Pre Workout – Do You Really Need It?

Pre Workout in Shaker Bottle

So if you are on your quest for information on weightlifting, chances you are going to run across pre-workout supplements. So you type that into google, and you get back hundreds of results on pre-workout. But when should you take pre-workout?

Should you really even be taking pre-workout?

Realistically, you could just have a nice light balanced snack before your workout and your body should have enough fuel to power through your workout. That is what everyone used to do before all these companies started making these pre workouts with all these crazy ingredients in it anyways.

Maybe you could weigh out your pros and cons and see which one would best benefit you. Pre-workout could definitely be a great addition to your daily workout routine, but some experts are worried about what these companies are stuffing into these supplements.

Despite health concerns over taking pre-workout supplements, the supplement is still in stores and the industry is still thriving and not going anywhere. Be careful of any pre-workout supplements that have illegal supplements.

So why do people love it so much? Do you really need it? Let me tell you if and when you should take pre-workout.

Does It Work?

So now that you’ve discovered pre-workout, a quick glance at the label of some of these pre workouts you see all kinds of claims including but not limited to:

  • Extreme Energy, Focus & Intensity
  • Explosive Muscle Pumps
  • Fuels Muscle Growth and Performance
  • Nitric Oxide Enhancer
  • Supports Weight Loss

I’m not sure what you think, but those are some pretty huge claims.

So does it actually work?

Well, the answer might not even be that simple. Jordan Moon who is an exercise physiologist and sports nutritionist at the United States Sports Academy and Concordia University Chicago, says that these supplements may just change the way you feel while you’re working out. Many of the ingredients in pre-workout supplements are intended to give athletes the perception that their workout is supercharged. Moon says that there are ingredients that each do a different thing like increase blood flow, increase heart rate, increase blood flow to the skin to give you that tingle. But the physical effects does not make the person taking the supplement bigger, stronger, or faster than reported by Life Science.

Even though I can’t tell you if pre-workout would truly work for you since they affect everyone differently. But I will explain to you what makes a pre-workout “work” and what you should be looking for when you are in the market to purchase a pre-workout.

The Caffeine

The majority of pre-workout that is available on the market today contains caffeine, sometimes too much caffeine. So I want you to keep in mind that a cup of green tea contains about 35mg of caffeine, and a cup of coffee is around 95mg. Let’s take a look at the caffeine content in some popular pre-workouts on the market currently.

  • Pulse – 350mg
  • N.O.-XPLODE – 225mg
  • Assault Black – 300mg
  • Iron Brothers – 275mg
  • Vintage Blast – 150mg
  • Ignite – 100mg
  • Nitro Surge – 180mg
  • C4 – 150mg

As you can see based on this list of popular pre-workout supplements that the caffeine levels for most of the pre-workouts are leaning on the higher side. The FDA has cited that the amount that is currently considered safe for a healthy adult to take is 400mg a day.

Some of these pre workouts recommend 1-2 scoops before workouts, which is under the limit. A lot of times people would use more than the recommended dosage, which for some of these pre workouts would put you over your daily FDA stated limit.

So when you’re looking at your pre-workout should you be looking for higher caffeine content? No, the caffeine is generally what helps you feel that little boost of energy but it definitely is not an ingredient you need a high amount of. Higher caffeine content could lead to some nasty jittery side effects as well.

It is also good to consider that caffeine will affect each individual person differently, If you use caffeine often you might need more to feel that boost. This is also where it could become dangerous if you are taking multiple scoops of pre-workout, and your pre-workout if high in caffeine content. So pay attention to the recommended dosage, and never take more than recommended.

The Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

Branched-chain amino acids are the amino acids valine, leucine and isoleucine. Supplement makers claim that BCAAs help you with the muscle fatigue that you would get after working out. As well as boost muscle performance and help with muscle growth as well.

Not every pre-workout comes with BCAAs included with it, but should you be looking for it in your pre-workout? Of course! Here is why.

There is some data that does show using BCAAs does help with post-exercise muscle repair, and at the same time lowering the chances of there being and muscle damaged from your workout. Leucine plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis, while isoleucine induces glucose uptake into cells, further research is needed to determine caline’s role in the supplement.

So that is great news, right? I know for me anything that could reduce how sore I feel the day after my workout is a big plus for me.

Although if you find your favorite pre-workout and it doesn’t contain any BCAAs, don’t worry you can easily find many brands of BCAAs by themselves on the market. So don’t worry if your favorite pre-workout doesn’t have BCAAs, personally, I like having it separately so I could mix it into my water and have flavored water all day long.

The Creatine

Even if you are new to weight lifting there is a good chance you have heard of the supplement creatine (You might have heard about it in school too). Creatine is the most widely used supplementation to increase strength performance.

Many studies have shown that creatine plays an important role in the regulation of muscle energetics and work. It has also been shown to be able to increase strength when combined with weight lifting.

So should you look for creatine in your pre-workout? You could, but you could always get it separately as well and mix it in yourself.

The recommended dosage for the loading phase is 20g per day, after this phase its recommended to use 3-5g per day for maintenance.


Will You Use It?

These really are the basic of the basic ingredients in pre-workout supplements. All companies use different mixes based on their own formulas so pay attention to what is in the various pre-workouts that you may consider buying.

Always make sure to follow recommended dosages on the pre-workout so you could limit the chances of getting the potential side effects of pre-workout.

Like always if you have any questions, comments, concerns leave a comment below and I will get back to you.



About Tony 38 Articles
Tony is a California based health and wellness writer who has a passion for weightlifting, fitness, and nutrition. You can find him frequently publishing on IronBeginner.com when he is not at the gym working out, or at the movie theater watching the latest Marvel movie.


  1. I definitely agree with you in that the fitness industry is very different to the HEALTH industry. What they put into these products have sometimes be very processed and unnatural. I think a banana is the best thing for a pre workout!
    Thanks for the tips and great information!

    • Awesome, i’m glad you found the information helpful. A banana is always a great thing to use for the energy you need to get through a work out. Thanks for reading!

  2. Thanks for this information. I can’t say that these supplements enhance your performance or not from a physical standpoint. Probably they do a bit. However, I am a believer in a mindset. I tried to meditate for ten mins before my workouts. Using my imagination I was creating great training in my mind first, so when I came to the gym, I was already pumped up. I found a huge difference in my workouts if I didn’t meditate before. As well, I had a cup of coffee or double green tea to get some additional boost.

    What do you think? Are those supplements just a placebo?


    • I am sure there are some supplements on the market that do absolutely nothing sometimes, but there are some that work. Mindset is definitely the beginning though, if you aren’t in the right mindset there isn’t any amount of supplements that would make it any better.

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